OSSINING, N.Y. – A year after a freak October snowstorm swept through Ossining, residents and village officials are preparing for another great storm in the form of Hurricane Sandy.
A snowstorm and high winds that hit the area on Oct. 29, 2011, left many trees and power lines down in towns and villages throughout Westchester and an estimated 58,000 customers in Westchester County without power. This year, residents could have to contend with Hurricane Sandy, which is now in the Caribbean but may bring heavy rains and wind to the area by early next week.
Ossining officials have been preparing for a major storm for weeks, said Village Manager Richard Liens.
“We have an active emergency management group and we just met last week so that was very helpful,” Liens said. “If something occurs, we have a whole hierarchy in place to deal with emergencies and a unified command at police headquarters downtown.”
Liens said he and dozens of other officials are prepared to open an emergency management headquarters at the village of Ossining Police station if Hurricane Sandy sweeps through early next week. He noted also that the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center at 95 N. Broadway would remain open in the event of power outages in the area.
“We will keep that open as an emergency shelter for those who lose power and heat,” he said, adding that flooding could also be a concern next week. “We are on the river so people should not park near the river if a storm comes through. We will make sure to notify people as soon as possible if a major storm does indeed hit our area on Monday or Tuesday.”
Liens said last year’s early snowfall, known as “Snowtober,” did not cause any permanent damage to the village but recalled that thousands of people were without power for a couple of days.
“It was mainly a protracted power emergency because those storms took down branches that hadn’t yet shed their leaves and that was the biggest problem,” he said. “We didn’t have any significant damage and it was mainly a cleanup operation.”
Many residents sought out shelter at the Ossining Public Library during that storm, recalled Library Director Jim Farrell.
“It was unexpected and it certainly was disruptive. We closed for two days because of the power outage but we had a lot of people who came to us in the days after who were still without power,” Farrell said. “For the last two weeks, we’ve been proactive in updating our emergency procedures here. We would like to keep it open next week, but we have the safety of our patrons and staff to consider.”
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